When shelling out the extra cash for Dolby Cinema, you want to take advantage of their assigned seating. When you have the option to get the best seat in the house, there’s no reason not to try, are we right?
Here’s a quick guide to picking the best seats in a Dolby Cinema theatre.
What Is Dolby Cinema?
Understanding where to sit in a theatre starts with understanding what kind of theatre you’re sitting in.
Dolby Cinema theatres vary in size and shape from location to location, but they all use the same technology. So, seating remains relatively unchanged between locations.
Dolby Cinema uses dual laser projectors made by Christie Digital. That’s right; each theatre is equipped with two projectors instead of your standard one. This cuts down keystone distortion for people sitting on the edges of the theatre and allows them to project deeper colours with higher contrast. You can read more about keystone distortion here.
Dolby Cinema locations are also equipped with a Dolby Atmos surround sound system. This system uses object-based surround sound to adapt to the room it’s installed in to provide more realistic sound placement.
Dolby Cinema is something every movie buff should try if they can.
What Is the Best Seat in a Dolby Cinema Theatre?
Like any auditorium, the best seats will be right in the centre of the theatre, a few rows back from the front. While this rule comes from live theatre viewings, the reasoning holds in digital theatres.
When viewing the movie in a Dolby Cinema theatre, the sound will project all around you when using a surround sound system. Sitting in the middle means that sounds will sound like they’re coming from all around you in a primarily equidistant fashion; no sound will dominate the listening profile too much.
It is worth noting that Dolby Atmos surround sound uses an object-based system which means that it will adapt to the room it’s placed in to deliver the best sound based on what is in the room.
Whereas a standard surround sound system can only play audio from the front (left/right) or rear (left/right) speakers, the object-based audio of Atmos can “place” audio anywhere in the theater. This may sound too futuristic, but anyone who spends a couple hours in a Dolby Atmos theater will soon become a believer.
Sitting in the centre of the theatre prevents you from accidentally sitting directly beneath one of the side speakers. If you’re sitting too close to a speaker, the sounds from that speaker may drown out the other speakers in the theatre.
You’ll want to sit a few rows back from the front. However, sitting directly in the front row will actually impede your movie-viewing experience. Since Dolby Cinema features super-massive screens, parts of the screen may not be in your vision if you’re too close to it.
Sitting a few rows back also improves the watching experience by creating a suspension of disbelief. You’ll feel close enough to the action to feel involved without being so close that it starts to impede your suspension of disbelief.
Finally, sitting in the centre reduces the keystone distortion you see to a minimum. Keystone distortion occurs when an image is projected through a projector. It causes the image to appear slanted or distorted.
While this is usually corrected through keystone correction, it will still be visible, especially from the sides of the theatre where you are viewing the image at an angle to begin with. Dolby Cinema’s dual projector setup can reduce keystone distortion somewhat, but it will still be visible if you look hard enough.
However, Dolby Cinema allows all patrons to book seats before the showing. So, what can you do if there are no more centre seats? Here’s the scoop.
What to Do If No Centre Seats are Available
Once the centre seats are gone, all you can do is hope that one of the other patrons doesn’t show up to the film and change seats when you get there. However, it’s good to pick out a “second best” seat just in case the theatre is entirely packed.
For “second best” seats, you’ll want to consider a few things. One: location of the seat in relation to the screen. Two: location of the seat in relation to the speakers. Unfortunately, the only way to figure out where the speakers are placed is to visit the theatre. So, if this is your first time visiting a theatre, you’ll have to cross your fingers and hope for the best after choosing your seat.
You’ll also want to decide whether the visual or audio is more important to you, as the needs of those who prefer highest-quality audio and those who prefer highest-quality visuals are different.
If you’re not as worried about the audio quality as you are about the visuals, you’ll want to sit in the back corner. From this vantage point, the keystone distortion will be minimal compared to other non-centre seats.
If you’re most worried about audio quality, you’ll want to look for a seat that is still in the middle of the theatre vertically. Choose a seat as close to the centre, going left to right for the best audio quality. Unfortunately, unless you’ve taken notes on every theatre in the building, there’s no way to ensure that you won’t be sitting underneath a speaker. This will give you the best chance at a fantastic audio experience.
How to Find the Centre of a Dolby Cinema Theatre
Finding the centre of a theatre is pretty straightforward. You can even do it right from the seat selection screen! You’ll want to draw an X across the seating map for the first step, connecting each corner to its diagonal.
Choose the closest seat to the intersection of the X. That’s the centre of the theatre. So, the closer you can get to the intersection, the better. The auditorium’s centre will be the section in and around that intersection of the diagonals.
Should I Get Front Row Seats?
You should avoid front-row cinema seats wherever possible. Sitting in the front row damages your experience in both audio and visuals. If the only seat options are front-row, consider going on a different day or waiting until the hype around a movie has died down.
When sitting in the front row, super-massive screens like the ones used in Dolby Cinema theatres will be cut off as your peripheral vision doesn’t extend far enough to see it. So, you’ll get less out of the super-massive screen when you’re so close to it.
Additionally, when sitting in the front row, you may find that the speakers situated behind the screen drown out the surround sound. With such an expansive surround sound system, you’ll want to hear everything from every speaker.
Finally, Dolby Cinema does feature select 3D showings. Sitting too close to the screen in a 3D movie will cause the 3D to lose depth. Sitting further back will make 3D images appear further away, but the image will have more depth.
Final Thoughts About the Best Seat in a Dolby Cinema Theatre
With all the changes being made to how we consume our media, it’s nice to fall back on tried-and-true methods of finding the best way to enjoy the media we consume.
For example, it’s pretty easy to find a centre seat in a Dolby Cinema by just drawing an X over the seating map. So, next time you decide to see a movie, try out that method for finding a seat right in the centre of the auditorium. You may not notice a difference, or it could change your movie-going habits forever!